Leaders Voice; Words to Inspire | Nikkei special edition

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Leadership Lessons from the Legal Profession

Kensaku Yamamoto,
Attorney-at-Law and Owner,

The Road to Establishing a Law Firm

The origins of Shusaku Yamamoto date back 40 years, to the opening of a patent attorney's office by my father, who is also a patent attorney. Since then the firm has operated from its offices in the Kansai region, where I was born, specializing in patents and trademarks, collectively referred to as intellectual property. I've been attracted to the law for as long as I can remember, and growing up watching my father's efforts in the profession probably had a big influence on me. As a student I devoted myself to my studies, and after graduating from university I passed the bar examination at the third attempt.

To gain experience as an attorney, I joined a big law firm in Tokyo. While always keeping in mind the idea of one day working in my father's practice, for about six years I built up experience and my own track record by handling a variety of cases. Those six years of experience became a major asset to me, and helped to develop the confidence I have now. After that I went back to Osaka and joined my father's firm in 2012. I then established Shusaku Yamamoto in its present form.

Kensaku Yamamoto(SHUSAKU·YAMAMOTO)

100% Fulfillment of Customer Needs

We now handle a broad range of legal work, not limited to intellectual property. A particular feature of our practice is that more than 80% of our clients are overseas companies from the US and elsewhere. To meet the needs of diverse overseas clients, we employ around 30 to 40 foreign staff. Clients from Europe and America, especially, tend to demand a rigorously logical approach, and they have an even more critical eye than Japanese clients when choosing attorneys. Our firm has strived to offer high-level legal services, so we are very fortunate to work in this exacting environment. Our achievements have been widely acclaimed overseas, which gives us confidence and strength.

Most of our case material comes via e-mail and other text-based formats, but rather than making decisions based on such documentation alone, we work to understand the situation from the background circumstances of the client and the case, and to consider what the client really wants. Our approach is to gain a complete grasp of customer needs, and to fulfill them 100%.

Kensaku Yamamoto(SHUSAKU·YAMAMOTO)

Attorneys Must Remember to Be Kind and Caring

I want to further expand the scope of work we handle and offer a broader range of legal support. This desire is prompted by diversifying client needs and the thought that we must be able to meet such needs if we are to survive.

Moreover, Japan's legal industry is changing as legal systems are reformed, and the chances of aspiring attorneys gaining registration are increasing. In other words, we are entering an era when just being an attorney will not guarantee your livelihood. For this reason, it will be important to sincerely engage with clients while empathizing with their views, and to practice law with a human touch. Knowledge and experience are essential, but our work also requires kindness and caring. I believe that attorneys who can put themselves in their clients' shoes and consider things from a client perspective should be able to grasp client needs as a matter of course.

To this end, we also have to maximize the potential of the staff we employ. It is crucial to consider how to build relationships of trust with our co-workers. That is why I have focused on creating an environment where staff can trust one another and do their utmost. I am convinced that creating this kind of work environment enhances client satisfaction.

A leader is someone that holds ultimate accountability. I want to be a leader who provides an environment where all workers can exercise their abilities to the full.